Persons Living with HIV Find Employment in Les Cayes

Date Publish: 
Haiti / America

Since 1993, IOM Haiti has put in place numerous programmes to
promote social empowerment through the setting up of income
generating opportunities for individuals and communities. These
have been carried out in partnership with international
organizations and local grassroots associations to benefit
individuals and communities living in often underdeveloped and
impoverished areas.

These projects range from the refurbishment and construction of
paved roads, canal and sewer clearance, irrigation and soil
conservation work. Schools and heath centres have also been built
as part of efforts to boost local employment, which is key to
community stabilisation and social development.

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Since August 2008, the Haitian town of Les Cayes has benefited
from many such projects, which include the refurbishment of
irrigation canals, public drainage works, the rehabilitation of
schools and the construction of a medical centre and public

In Les Cayes, the beneficiaries are mostly HIV/AIDS carriers,
according to IOM's Louis Chanel. The programmes are carried out in
partnership with the Association de la Solidarité Nationale
(ASON), Haiti's first AIDS community advocacy group, together with
the mutual assistance group, the Association des Personnes Vivant
avec le VIH (APVIH).

"Beneficiaries, receive medical support from the Immaculate
Conception hospital in Les Cayes, and are employed at a daily rate
of 200 to 250 gourdes", (USD 5 to 6) says Chanel.  To date,
more than 2,600 people have gained employment through the USAID-US
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme.

"This has allowed me to set up a small retail business," says
Eugène Solange who has recently joined ASON. "I sell rice,
oil, spaghettis and soap".

Luckner Brunal has also joined the community advocacy group
ASON. With the money he received for his involvement in PEPFAR
projects, he bought his family a piglet, which he intends to fatten
up and sell. "This programme is a real life line for my family. It
has allowed us to better feed and clothe our children."

The programme initially launched by IOM in Les Cayes to help HIV
carriers has now spread to the neighbouring communes of
Port-à-Piment and Coteaux. Programmes are carried out in
partnership with the Haitian Movement for Rural Development, which
is based in the capital Port-au-Prince. Thanks to these projects, a
significant number of people affected by HIV/AIDS in these areas
have found employment.

"The work is always carried out in a spirit of conviviality,
sharing and happiness," says Louis Chanel. "This contrasts with the
prevalent hostility and stigmatisation that HIV carriers usually
have to put up with."

To counter prejudices against people with HIV, the advocacy
group APVIH organizes regular awareness raising sessions among the
general population.

Apart from infrastructure projects carried out by IOM and its
partners in Les Cayes, a variety of projects were launched in
February 2009 to encourage local food production with funding from
PEPFAR. As a result, hundreds of HIV/AIDS affected persons directly
benefited from this initiative.

USAID's Programme de Revitalisation et de Promotion de l'Entente
et de la Paix (PREPEP) works with community-based groups in
targeted, conflict-prone areas to identify small scale, high-impact
projects designed to engage a wide cross-section of the community
in its own stabilization and improvement. The programme aims to
bridge the gap between the government and marginalized communities
by creating opportunities for dialogue and collaboration around the
rehabilitation of small infrastructure and socio-cultural
activities, especially for young people.

The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
programme has also assisted NGOs, associations and organization in
sub Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and in other parts of the world
to combat HIV/AIDS.  Through PEPFAR, Haiti received USD 100
million in fiscal year 2008 to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS
prevention, treatment and care programmes. By implementing these
projects, IOM not only contributes to community development and job
creation but it also directly assists persons living with HIV, an
important step in promoting more tolerance and understanding among
the general population.

© IOM 2010